The built environment will be one of tech’s next big platforms – TechCrunch

From the beginningPlan for Sidewalk labs (A subsidiary of Alphabet and – by extension – a relative of Google) was controversial for developing a $ 1.3 billion tech-enabled real estate project on the Toronto waterway.

Advocates of privacy had justified concerns about the Google-adjacent company’s development or ability to capture almost the total amount of data of any city-dweller that strayed into its high-tech panopticon.

but Alphabet, Sidewalk Labs’ The leadership and even the popular Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, had high expectations for the project.

Startups working in real estate technology managed to earn a record $ 3.7 billion from investors in the first quarter of the year.

“Successful cities around the world are grappling with the same challenges of climate change, rising costs of people living outside the middle class, congestion and sometimes prolonged traffic. Sidewalk Labs scanned the Globe for the perfect place to create a district to focus on solutions to these pressing challenges, and we found it on the east coast of Toronto – as well as public sector partner, Waterfront Toronto Said, “Sidewalk Labs executive Dan Doctoroff said. Former Deputy Mayor of New York, In a statement announcing the launch in 2017. “This will not be a place where we deploy technology of our own free will, but rather a place where we use emerging digital tools and solve big urban challenges in the latest way in urban design that we hope That will inspire cities around the world. “

From Sidewalk Labs’ point of view, the Toronto Project would be an ideal laboratory that the company and the City of Toronto could use to explore the utility and efficacy of the latest and greatest new technologies that enhance city life and make it more environmentally sustainable Are for

The company’s stated goal in 2017 was to “create a space that encourages innovation around energy, waste and other environmental challenges to protect the planet; a place that offers a range of transportation options that compare to a private car Are more affordable, safe and convenient; a place that embraces conducive buildings and new construction methods to reduce the cost of housing and retail space; a place where public spaces to enjoy all seasons, day and night Welcoming families; a place that is enhanced by digital technology and data, without leaving any privacy and security that everyone deserves. “

From a purely engineering point of view, integrating these new technologies into a single test case matters little. From the point of view of community development, it was a nightmare. Residents of Toronto begin to see the development as much less than a showroom A set of privacy-invasion innovations This can then lead to sidewalk companies moving in – or a place where startup companies can test their technology on a potentially unwanted population.

So when the economic implications of the global COVID-19 pandemic began to become apparent back in March of this year, it seemed equally good for Sidgwick Labs to shut down the project.

“[As] Unprecedented economic uncertainty has set in around the world and in the Toronto real estate market, making it difficult to make a 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan. We teamed up with Waterfront Toronto to be truly inclusive. is constructed. , Sustainable community, ” Docoff said in a statement. “And so, after much deliberation, we concluded that there is no point in moving forward with the Quayside project.”